Author Topic: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?  (Read 452 times)

shelivesthedream

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Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« on: August 07, 2017, 02:26:05 AM »
I'm fairly new to canning but have been reading this site (www.healthycanning.com) and feel confident enough to have a go and try to can some concentrated blackberry juice/cordial. However, can I put these bottles (https://media.domu.co.uk/catalog/product/cache/1/thumbnail/800x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/v/o/vonshef_6pc_set_500ml_glass_clip_top_bottles_6.jpg) in a water bath canner as long as the water is deep enough to cover the top? They're not likely to explode, right??

Snow

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 03:24:20 AM »
Short answer: Yes. They should absolutely be safe to use. If you are nervous, don't fill the bottles all the way up, but leave some headspace for the air to expand into. I have never had a problem with any jar or bottle exploding.

Long answer:
The good thing about clip tops (jars and bottles), is that although they keep outside air from coming in, they are not actually air tight. Ideally, the rubber gasket should work as a buffer when you do CO2-producing things like fermentation and in theory, it should let some air out if the pressure is too high.

I must admit, I have had varying degrees of luck with this. I find my sauerkraut (and esp. fermented onions which hubby loves) still works up quite the pressure, and I always take care when opening them. You can also pull a little on the rubber gasket without opening the lid, and excess pressure should escape without ruining the seal.

Note that all this is for fermentation, which is some of the most pressure-intensive things you can do with clip tops. For sterile canning, pour piping hot jams/juice in freshly boiled glasses and screw lid on ASAP (I actually roast my glasses in the oven, but boil any rubber/plastic parts). Then boil the whole jar for 10-15 minutes, depending on size. It is the water outside that should be boiling for this amount of time, not the preserve in your bottles. If you see the inside of your bottles start to make small bubbles rising to the top as if softly boiling, they are ready to be pulled out of the water and left to cool. Keeping an eye on your preserves is generally a safer method than rigidly relying on clocks and timers.

If you do not have a large enough casserole, you can try to sterilize them in the oven at 100-110oC (212-230oF) for the same time. I would have preferred to ramp it up to 120oC (248oF), which is what the autoclave at work operates at, but that will ruin your rubber gasket/plastic lids and non glass/metal lids or sealing rubber, so make sure you keep a close eye on your bottles for any damage (this is why boiling is easier, if you have the equipment. Regular ovens are typically not made to be accurate at such low temperatures). If you see small bubbles forming inside the jars/bottles, it should be boiling hot inside and safe to let cool down and store. 

A note for the lazy: Generally, boiling your glasses, adding boiling hot preserve and then boiling the sealed jars is a bit of a microbiological overkill. Hot steam from your hot produce will generally produce a flow of air around the mouth of the jars that should keep them safe for the short time you need to screw on the freshly boiled lids/gaskets. When I can, I usually consider sterilizing the jars beforehand and making sure the preserve is boiling when I can it to be enough. I usually skip the last (boil the whole, sealed jar/flask) sterilization step. But if you make humongous batches where the jars sit for quite some time between filling and getting a lid on, I would do the last sterilization step for sure.

Oh, and always remember to flip your jars/bottles upside down while piping hot, preferably letting them stand like that for a couple of minutes. That way, even if you were unlucky enough to get some bad bacteria on the lids, they will be taken care of. So make sure the entire inside of the container has been coated/standing in hot preserve for some time at least once.

Hope some of my ramblings help. Good luck! :)
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 05:16:42 AM by Snow »

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2017, 06:58:54 AM »
My answer is no.

I haven't found any evidence that the glass lid and rubber ring are safe.  Unfortunately our food safety / agriculture ministry doesn't seem to do any of the research on this - the only literature I can find is sponsored by Bernardin.  Since they are the folks that make the metal and rubber lids, then maybe they have an interest in promoting their product.  But on the other hand maybe there isn't a fail-safe method of ensuring food safety with the older style product and they won't touch this method because it is too dangerous.

I closely follow the method in my newish (2010) cookbook by a home economist that has been working with food safety folks in a lab to test all the product and my mom.  My mom was a home economist with her training in the 60's.  She always keeps up to date with the new methods as she had the fear of God put in her in university about not killing her family with botulism.  She never uses the glass and rubber ring lids for canning.  She uses those jars to keep beans and rice away from mice and moths.

Oven canning is not recommended in our area. There was a big debate about it on a local resilience blog and a couple of people thought it was fine, and a person that I find more reliable said 'hell, no, are you crazy?'.  And asked that the others show the evidence.  That was the end of the discussion. I was always taught that hot food into sterilized jars and warm lids is not entirely safe and that a short hot water bath is essential to kill everything for sure. The length of boiling is only 12 minutes for some foods, longer for others.  If I am not in the mood to can - I just use the freezer.
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shelivesthedream

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2017, 07:55:08 AM »
Yep, healthy canning.com explains in great and convincing detail why water bath, steam and pressure canning are the only acceptable options. (And why the turning jars upside down thing INCREASES the likelihood of not forming a proper seal and therefore contamination.

I'll be honest, Frugal Lizard, I'm probably going to have a go. Cordial is a fairly high-sugar product, I'm going to boil the hell out of it to reduce it and I'm unlikely to keep the bottles more than a few months. But I'll be sure to only do a small batch so I know it'll be used up quickly and follow proper safe canning procedures in all other respects.

For future preserves for longer term storage, I am planning to invest in some proper jars - but they seem hard to find/insanely expensive in the UK. How much is it reasonable to pay for a canning jar and lid?

Snow

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2017, 12:42:54 PM »
Oh, that is very interesting. I have never heard any warnings about botulism with regards to home canned preserves. Only as the reason you do not give honey to infants.

But then again, I grew up with old ladies who canned in any old glass jars they had saved, washed and sterilised. Now I am starting to wonder if they were just lucky in never getting sick (of course, you threw out the contents of the jar/bottle if it had gone mouldy and bad). But I have also heard that a lot of the preserving methods we use simply would spoil when used in warmer climates with more microorganisms, so maybe that is a factor as well.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2017, 07:18:04 AM »
I have a stock of jars and the metal rings - so I can't remember what I paid. They last years if you store the metal rings in a dry place so they don't rust.  I buy new snap lids every year. Again on sale and have them on hand.  Bernardin is the manufacturer.  In our city, all the grocery stores have jars, lids and rings, as well as the hardware store.  The thrift show sells them but they are cheaper new.
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Cranky

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Re: Can I put clip-top bottles in a water bath canner?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 07:29:40 PM »
I admit that I am not sure what "cordial" is, so that clouds my answer here. If there's alcohol in it, I'd sterilize those bottles and then just keep them in a cool place.

I started making jam back when people mostly sealed the top of the jar with paraffin/wax, and I never had a jar go bad. I use standard jam jars now and process them in a water bath, but I do think it's overkill, and I have a pressure canner for anything besides jam.

I have noticed that a lot of canning directions are different in the U.K., though.